Labor Shortage in the Reopening Economy

Business Insider (04/16/21)

The pandemic cost millions of Americans their jobs, and while the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 9.7 million of them are actively seeking work, businesses are reporting significant labor shortages.

Weekly jobless claims are at a pandemic-era low just this past Thursday, but businesses, particularly in the restaurant and service industries, are still struggling to hire. The National Restaurant Association has found that staffing at full-service restaurants remains down 20%, or 1.1 million openings, from the year-ago level, but staffing is even down at firms that want to rehire workers.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 11 that fear is a main driver behind this labor shortage, as people don’t want to risk returning to the workplace and contracting COVID-19. The New York Times’ Neil Irwin sees other possibilities.

While it’s hard to pinpoint a definitive reason for the disconnect between Americans looking to reenter the labor force and a “potentially catastrophic” labor shortage, Irwin highlights four main possibilities, and fear is a big one.

Read the full article here.